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Stoic Dufner makes up for 2011 heartbreak

other Updated: Aug 13, 2013 02:25 IST
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The former title holder was standing behind the 18th green, waiting to greet Jason Dufner, the latest PGA Championship winner. It was not Rory McIlroy, who won last year and finished tied for eighth this time around.

Keegan Bradley, who won the 2011 event at Dufner’s expense, returned to Oak Hill Country Club from his hotel, where he watched most of Dufner’s two-stroke victory over Jim Furyk while taking to Twitter to provide insider analysis like “The duff daddy is dialed in.”

Bradley will not have Dufner to needle anymore about not having a replica of the Wanamaker Trophy.

Dufner, 36, seemed surprised to see Bradley, wearing basketball shorts and a T-shirt. Bradley made his way over to him after Dufner made his short bogey putt on the 18th to seal the win, which he celebrated with two fist pumps that could have been mistaken for involuntary twitches. After Dufner hugged his wife, Amanda, he received a bear hug from Bradley.

How the two fierce competitors became fast friends reveals more about Dufner’s personality than he will ever show in public. It was forged in the most awkward of arenas, during the playoff between the two at the 2011 PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club, in which Dufner shot two strokes higher than Bradley.

There is a danger in reading too much into how golfers carry themselves during a competitive round. Whether they are smiley or stoic, demonstrative or dispassionate, polite or preoccupied, the fans are seeing a snapshot of their favorite players’ personas, not a portrait.

Take Dufner, who can be a real cut-up when you get him away from his office. “Jason, when he’s around people he’s comfortable with, he actually will talk quite a bit,” said Brandt Snedeker, who got to know Dufner better last year when they were Ryder Cup teammates. “His persona on the golf course is not really who he is at all.”

Dufner is not so stoic that he does not stop to admire the scenery. On the second nine of his round Thursday, he walked over to his wife, who was walking outside the gallery ropes, and dropped a few acorns in her palms and encouraged her to gather a few more.

The couple recently bought a large plot of land in Auburn, where Dufner attended college. On Sunday, Dufner’s wife said, “He wants to take those acorns and try to grow some oak trees, which will be really, really special now.”

New York Times